Vegan Pozole Rojo

This vegan pozole rojo recipe is velvety and rich, smartly employing mushrooms for earthy flavor and slight chew.

Vegan Posole Rojo
Photo: Photo: HEAMI LEE / FOOD STYLING CHELSEA ZIMMER / PROP STYLING / CHRISTINE KEELY
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 20 mins
Servings:
8

Edgar Castrejón's Thanksgivings in Oakland, California, were a whole-family affair. His mother had a demanding schedule as a single parent and hotel housekeeping staff member, so everyone pitched in. "Everyone would bring something to the table," the self-taught chef, photographer, and author said of his family's massive holiday feasts. (His mom's 11 siblings attended, and they invited neighbors, too.)

Birria, ensalada de nopales (cactus-paddle salad), frijoles de la olla, pupusas, Spanish rice, tamales, and enchiladas filled the tables, along with cheesecake, flan, and arroz con leche (rice pudding). Castrejón's mother always purchased a holiday-sale turkey and simmered it into a big pot of pozole rojo. Rooted in pre-Columbian traditions, the slightly smoky chile-laden stew warmed and comforted the crowd.

"Our tables were always full, filled with everybody's food, and it felt like we were rich," he said. Castrejón's studies in horticulture, plant science, and nutrition; concerns about animal welfare and his family's health; plus conversations with his grandma about her traditional diet (meat is a luxury where she is from in Mexico) fueled his efforts to veganize favorite recipes, which were published in Provecho, his debut cookbook.

This vegan pozole rojo recipe is from Castrejón's cookbook. It is velvety and rich, smartly employing mushrooms for earthy flavor and slight chew. The result is just as satisfying as a meat-laden pozole, and leftovers are fabulous.

Dishes like this sensational mushroomy pozole rojo have persuaded his family to eat a more plant-centered diet. In 2021, Castrejón's mom, now a small-business owner with more time on her hands around the holiday, prepared two vegan dishes for Thanksgiving. They were completely devoured. — Andrea Nguyen

Ingredients

  • 8 guajillo chiles (about 1 1/2 ounces)

  • 4 California chiles (dried Anaheim chiles) (about 1 ounce)

  • 4 cups water

  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil

  • 1 ½ pounds fresh oyster mushrooms or lion's mane mushrooms, trimmed and roughly chopped or torn (about 8 cups)

  • 1 medium-size white or yellow onion (about 9 ounces), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 3 dried bay leaves

  • 5 medium garlic cloves

  • 5 cups drained and rinsed canned white hominy (from 4 [15.5-ounce] cans)

  • 1 ½ teaspoons Himalayan pink salt, plus more to taste

  • 6 to 8 cups vegetable broth (such as Zoup!), divided

  • 5 cups thinly shredded green cabbage (from 1 small head cabbage)

  • 8 medium radishes (about 5 ounces), thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

  • 4 limes, cut into wedges

  • 2 cups chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and tender stems)

  • Corn tortilla chips or corn tortillas, for serving

Directions

  1. Trim stems from chiles; cut chiles lengthwise but not all the way through, and remove seeds. Transfer chiles to a small saucepan, and add 4 cups water. Bring to a boil over high; boil until softened, about 8 minutes. Set aside.

  2. While chiles cook, heat avocado oil in a 6-quart pot or Dutch oven over medium-high. Add mushrooms, onion, and bay leaves, and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent and mushrooms start releasing liquid, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

  3. Drain chiles, reserving 2 cups soaking liquid. Place chiles, reserved soaking liquid, and garlic in a high-powered blender. Secure lid on blender, and remove center piece to allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over opening. Process chile mixture until smooth, about 45 seconds.

  4. Pour chile mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer directly into mushroom mixture in pot; discard strained solids. Add hominy, salt, and 6 cups broth; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high; reduce heat to medium. Cover pot, and boil pozole, undisturbed, 35 minutes. Season with additional salt to taste; add up to remaining 2 cups broth as needed if pozole is too thick. Cover and continue cooking pozole over medium, undisturbed, 10 minutes.

  5. Remove pot from heat, and let pozole rest, covered, 10 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves. Serve with cabbage, radishes, lime wedges, cilantro, and chips or tortillas.

Make Ahead

Ahead Blended chile mixture can be made up to 1 day in advance and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.

Note

For a version of this recipe that includes turkey (which Edgar's mom occasionally makes), replace the vegetable broth with lightly salted turkey stock or chicken broth. Cook the onion and bay leaf until soft and translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add 2 cups strained chile liquid, hominy, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds raw boneless turkey thighs (cut into 8-ounce pieces), salt, and 4 cups turkey stock. Cook, covered, at a swift boil 30 minutes. Remove turkey pieces, partially cover pot, and continue cooking pozole 15 minutes. When turkey is cool enough to handle, shred turkey meat; discard or slice the skin. Add turkey to pot, let stand 10 minutes, and serve.

Suggested Pairing

Rich, full-bodied California red: Buehler Napa Valley Zinfandel

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